www.latimes.com 3rd July 2011
An ExxonMobil oil pipeline crossing the Yellowstone River in Montana has been damaged spilling around a 1,000 barrels (42,000 gallons) of crude into the marine environment. It took ExxonMobil engineers 6 minutes to shut the pipeline down after pressure readings dropped on Sunday. The last inspection of the pipeline (December) showed the pipe 5-8 feet below the riverbed but heavy rains and melted snow are believed to have removed the sediment on top. This exposed the metalwork to floating debris which damaged the structural integrity of the pipeline, resulting in the spill. The pipeline is only 20 years old but was already shut in May this year due to worries about seasonal flooding. It was reopened however after it was deemed safe based on the pipeline’s record. It is too early to tell the impact on the surrounding environment although local residents are concerned that when the high river waters recede, they will leave oil on farmers’ land.